March 13, 2003

Formation of Pakistan Social Forum and Joint Declaration

Dear Friends

An two-day consultation of more that 50 civil society organizations, labor federations and trade-unionists, rights-based people's movements, teachers, journalists associations, political and social activists (list of the participants attached) was held in Lahore from March 12-13, 2003. The meeting discussed the experiences of World Social Forum (WSF) and Asia Social Forum (ASF) and initiation of its diffusion in Pakistan.

In the two-day deliberations the participants analyzed the philosophy, approach and process which led to the formation WSF as a forum of progressive, social democrats, socialists and other pro-peace and democratic forces from all over the world.

The participants reviewed with great interest, the process of the formation of World Social Forum and Asian Social Forum as global movement, under the banner of ëAnother World is Possibleí and so powerfully expressed itself at Hyderabad India and Porto Alegre Brazil. The participants also felt that the way this global movement has expressed itself against neo-liberal agenda needs to be understood, consolidates and also continued with redoubled commitment. The group decided that instead of taking these major global assemblies of progressive and democratic forces as mere events we need to understand them as long-term process of engaging forces of anti-war and anti-neo-liberalism under one banner. Realizing the need to diffuse the process in Pakistan the groups committed itself to a continued struggle and efforts to take it further to all corners of the country. The group also pledged to continue its struggle to unite all progressive, rights-based and democratic forces in Pakistan on the these common threats to the world and marginalized groups.

The assembly after careful deliberation drafted a joint declaration highlighting its position on current issues especially in wake of impending US attack on Iraq, its possible fall-outs on the world peace, right-based movements, intensifying regional and local military tensions and on world economy,

A coordination committee is formed to take the process further to the local levels through public forums, debates, dialogues, bring other forces and actors of the civil society in the forum besides engaging with World Social Forum and Asian Social Forum. An action plan was also formed and the committee is given the task to engage members of the forum and other like-minded forces and facilitate the process of organizing a Pakistan Social Forum later this year and preparations for the next World Social Forum in 2004 in India. The members of the first coordination committee are the following:

1. I.A. Rehman, HRCP
2. Anwar Dogar, Anjuman Mazareen
3. Saadia, SPO
4. Dr. Zafar Mirza, Network for Consumer Protection
5. Dr. A. H Nayyar, SDPI
6. Yaqoob Ahmed, Takhleek Foundation Karachi
7. Tariq Awan, PILER
8. Karamat Ali, PILER
9. Mohammad Tahseen, SAP-Pakistan
10. Ch. Manzoor, MNA of Pakistan Peopleís Party
11. Shahdia Jabeen, Pakistan Peopleís Party
12. Marvi Sarmad, Aurat Foundation
13. Amjad Nazeer, SAP-Pakistan
14. M.B. Naqvi, Columnist and Pakistan Peace Coalition (PPC)
15. Rashid Patras, Sanitary Workers Union
16. Farooq Tariq, Labor Party Pakistan
17. Gul Rehman, Muttahida Labor Federation
18. Ch. Yaqoob, Muttahida Labor Federation
19. Ghaffar Malik, Sindh Development Society Hyderabad
20. Tariq Shahzad
21. Shahjahan Panezai, IDSP Quetta
22. Nasarullah Khan, DAY Quetta
23. Irfan Mufti, SAP-Pakistan and Secretary to the Committee

A detailed reports of the meeting will be circulate to you all soon. For any further information and contact please write to the interim secretariat of the Pakistan Social Forum:

South Asia Partnership Pakistan
Nasirabad, 2 k.m. Raiwind Road
P. O. Thokar Niaz Beg
Tel: 042-5426470 ó 73
Fax: 042 ó 5411 637

Statement of the Coordination Committee of the Pakistan Social Forum
Lahore, 13th March 2003

We the assembly of political and social activists, trade unionists, students, teachers, peopleís movements, are gathered here today as part of the burgeoning global movement against neo-liberalism and militarism, symbolized by the process known as the World Social Forum (WSF). On February 15th, this global movement came of age and highlighted that it does represent the interests and beliefs of people across the world based on peace and justice for all. We pledge allegiance to the goals of this movement and aspire to further the cause of this movement here in Pakistan. We have met here in Lahore over the past two days to take this process forward in anticipation of the next WSF in India in 2004. A coordination committee has been formed for this purpose and the South-Asia Partnership-PK (SAP-Pk) will act as the secretariat.

Today the threat of militarism and neo-liberalism is greater than ever, given the imperialist advance of the US in Afghanistan and the now imminent invasion of Iraq. We reject the neo-imperialist order that is being framed by the US, and call upon all peace-loving people to articulate their opposition to US aggression. The military strategy of the US is simply an extension of the neo-liberal capitalist order that has been imposed on poor people of the world incessantly since the fall of the Berlin Wall. We consider the impending attack on Iraq an attack on all people of the world, and not the clash of civilizations that has been depicted both by the hawks in the Bush administration or the extremist elements who are engaging in sloganeering of a similar character. It is very likely that US aggression will not stop at Iraq.

The international system that has evolved since WWII faces a serious crisis of legitimacy if the US does go ahead with its plan to attack Iraq regardless of world opinion. In particular, the United Nations mandate will be forever damaged if the US attacks in spite of opposition in the Security Council and across the globe. It is imperative that the UN is not further discredited. In particular, we demand that the government of Pakistan unequivocally vote against war in the SC. We also welcome the stance of the governments of France, Germany, Russia, and China who have clearly heeded the public uproar in these countries against war.

We refuse to believe that the people of the world should be left at the mercy of the market and the whims of corporate globalization. Should international law be sacrificed at the altar of US hegemony, institutions such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and regimes such as the World Trade Organisation will be left to dictate the future of the vast majority of people across the world. We will resist this slide toward oppression at all levels.

We demand that the government of Pakistan get military bases currently under US control, vacated forthwith and that the same takes place in all countries of the world where the US has maintained a military presence. We also stand for global disarmament of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. In addition regional tensions in South Asia remain high and a threat to over one billion people in the sub-continent. We demand that the governments of India and Pakistan resume dialogue on all outstanding issues particularly nuclear weapons and Kashmir, and remove restrictions on movement of common people.

The WSF process stands for democratization at all levels. We too here in Pakistan want democratization of state and society. The global hegemonic order is based on the ability of the national elite in countries such as Pakistan to manipulate decision-making processes and monopolise resource allocation. We strongly condemn the manner in which the state continues to suppress the rights of those who are resisting the advance of neo-liberalism including the urban and rural landless, students, workers, and all other groups seeking to secure basic livelihoods. We stand clearly for democratic practice at all levels and in particular demand complete withdrawal of the military from the political sphere.

We oppose violence and war at all levels, and oppose the propagation of ideologies founded on violent principles. We cannot condone the onslaught of communalism, religious extremism and parochialism at any level and stand for principles of diversity, tolerance, and co-existence. If the US war march continues, we fear that such principles will be condemned to oblivion.

We will build a movement here in Pakistan in accordance will all of these principles. We will engage in direct and political action. We appeal to all citizens, political parties, and civil society organizations to join this struggle against neo-liberalism and militarism.

Issued by, Secretariat Pakistan Social Forum (PSF)

Return to New collection at South Asia Citizens Web

Return to South Asia Citizens Web